The other day I was coming home from my grief counselor’s office when I spotted two big lost dogs on leashes wandering around in the dark, focused on something they couldn’t find…home. I slowed my car and called out to them, and they approached the car sheepishly — good. Friendly.
I put on my hazards and pulled over, and slowly opened the door, calling them over.
One of the dogs, the younger, dopey one, who was something of a shepherd/lab/other blonde dog mix, ran right up to me and started leaping grateful leaps of licking affection and trying to get in the car. I grabbed his leash, and he seemed so happy to be caught. I looked toward the boxer, and she had this panicked, fervent affect, looking looking looking…I called her over and she ducked her head and let me take her leash.
I called the number on the tags and left a message but I knew I had to get these guys out of the street. I couldn’t wait there all night in case the owner never called. I knew my yard, big and unlocked, would be the perfect place to hold these two until the owner called. Or until I could post fliers around the neighborhood.
I coaxed them into my MINI, a strange car with a small back seat, and the boxer happily drooled all over my armrest. When I pulled into the driveway, I let them out and opened the fence, herding them in there.
When I leave for short segments, if Kona doesn’t want to come in, I don’t make him.
Kona, extraordinarily INTENSE about his Job Protecting Mama and Home, marched up to them immediately with an air of Who The Fuck Are You, and the boxer took exception. She lunged at him, and the next few minutes were a blur of tooth-baring, fighting, snarling, racing, running, biting. I chased these angry fast dogs around the yard, in endless, infinite circles, attempting to step on the leash, but by the time I did, the boxer had Kona’s scruff in her mouth, and there was no hope that the leash would fix it. I pulled on her back legs, but boxers are tenacious, and she would not let go. I was terrified of hurting Kona by pulling, maybe dragging her teeth through his skin. Also, this method of separating fighting dogs wouldn’t work if Kona kept coming back.
I put my body between them and tried to pry Kona away, to separate them, but every time I separated them a little bit they renewed their grips and dug in. I was terrified, wondering how to make it stop before someone lost an eye, or pierced a vein. I already had blood on my hands and my beautiful new scarf, but I didn’t care as long as there was this fury. And my baby boy in danger.
I was breathing so hard and so deeply that the cold air stung my lungs, and I dove on top of the boxer, pinning her body against me. I shoved Kona away, but he was relentless.
MAMA IS IN TROUBLE. MUST SAVE MAMA.
I caught his eyes, as I had both arms wrapped around the upper legs of the still-gnashing boxer, and I said, as firmly as I could, HOUSE. Reluctantly he turned away, then came back with a vengeance, as if my holding the boxer would be his shot at winning. I ordered him to Leave It, and kept repeating HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE at the top of my lungs in anger and desperation and frustration. Please, Buddy, please.
Eventually he went to the back door, uncertainly, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, regardless of my orders; I tied the boxer to the fence, and went to let him in and inspect the damage. Covered in slobber and a bit bruised, I could not find him bleeding anywhere. I wiped him down with wet washcloths several times and checked every inch of his body. The blood was the boxer’s, and a bit of mine, but none of my fearless protector’s.
I took a wet towel out to inspect the boxer, and checked her ears, paws, legs, everything. A few minor bite marks but nothing permanent. RELIEF.
The third, companion dog was just dorking around the whole time, dopey and confused, and I am so grateful that he didn’t join in. If there had been two angry dogs, I would not have been able to separate them, and who knows who would have suffered a potentially fatal injury.
Possibly even me.
In the aftermath, I was shaking and crying for hours, regretting my stupidity.
Who wants to rescue dogs?
OH OH OH ME I HELP DOGS!
…and forget that my beloved boy is in the yard. How did I forget that. What kind of mother am I?
Regrets, admonishments, rules for Next Time (because I can never turn down someone in obvious need), and these things that are true:
- My beloved protector is OK
- The only male who would give his life for me is OK
- My sweet love is OK
- Aside from a few bruises that have become florid over the past few days, I’m OK
- I know better now.
I still regret being dumb and forgetful, and unused to being single. No one would have come for me. What if? Well, I would have dies because days would have passed by before anyone had noticed. This is the fear I fight every night as I fall asleep.
The owner eventually came, apologized for the fight, grateful to have his dogs back, took them home.
But I…I’m grateful for my one true thing. The only thing I can rely on…Kona’s love.